News for Thursday 021116
By Dave Graichen
The already bleak budget situation in the state looks to be much worse. The Revenue Estimating Conference met yesterday and said the mid-year deficit is up from $750 million to $870 million. The gap for next fiscal year has swelled past two billion dollars. Low oil prices are to blame for the less than anticipated revenues, but that’s not the only issue. The legislature’s chief economist Greg Albrecht says corporate taxes are weak.
Governor John Bel Edwards will address Louisiana citizens tonight to discuss the state’s historic budget deficit. This address comes ahead of the special legislative session that begins Sunday, where lawmakers will have to come up with a plan to combat an 870-million dollar budget deficit. UL Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says that this kind of speech is unprecedented. Louisiana needs to boost state revenue and make cuts to the current budget to resolve the $870 million budget shortfall, which must be filled by June 30th.
A special session to address the state’s budget crisis begins Sunday, and state lawmakers have already started filing bills. One of the first proposed bills would increase the state tax on a pack of cigarettes another 22-cents per pack. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says he’ll push for the tax increase but it is still important to make cuts to the current budget.
The Pineville council has become the latest public agency to take a stand against a proposal for a company to quadruple its open burning of toxic waste near Colfax. In doing so, Pineville has joining the Rapides and Grant police juries and the Colfax Town Council. The Alexandria City Council has not yet voted on the open-burning issue. A spokesman for Clean Harbors Colfax has said that the company meets or exceeds all state Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The company also disputes claims that the burning at the facility causes health problems.
Is that aluminum plant that we heard so much about last year still coming to Pineville at the old IP facility? Revolution Aluminum announced a year ago this month plans to bring a multi-billion dollar aluminum manufacturing complex to Pineville. Since then the company’s projected closing date on the paper mill property has been kicked back multiple times. Jim Clinton, president of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, says he remains optimistic of progress on the project in the near future.
A Baton Rouge lawmaker has filed a bill for the regular session that seeks to change the state constitution to allow Louisiana residents to possess a concealed handgun without needing a permit. Republican State Representative Barry Ivey says that this law would apply only to non-felon residents.
Fresh off his primary win in New Hampshire, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump will hold a rally tonight at the Baton Rouge River Center. Political Analyst John Couvillion says new life has been breathed into Trump’s campaign, but to get the nomination, he’ll need to outperform Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the southern states.
A man from Tennessee was busted on I-10 near Henderson Wednesday with over 200 pounds of marijuana in his truck, according to State Police. They say 59-year-old Michael Willis was pulled over for a traffic violation and began acting strange. Troopers smelled the drugs and located about 202 pounds of pot. He was booked at the St. Martin Parish Jail.
The fast food chain Burger King announces they’ll add hot dogs to their menu starting February 23rd. LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice says McDonald’s just went to all day breakfast and this is Burger King’s way of opening a new market. Fast food chain Sonic also sells hot dogs, but they have a lot of varieties. Rice says Burger King decided to only offer the classic grilled hot dog and the chili cheese dog.